Body and Soul Armor. T.H.R.I.V.E., #23
Five and a half hours - flying from east coast to west, this poor plastic-covered woman sat near a window, but . . . she was protected. Who knows, but what she was protecting others from her own sickness? Or maybe she was so frightened of catching Covid-19 she was protecting herself from others. Either way, she looked like something from a science fiction movie.
Paul warned his fellow believers to protect themselves - using the armor of the Roman soldiers to illustrate his point.
I take you back to the first century ...
They could hear it coming. They could draw it in their sleep. The very sound of it was synonymous with authority, and usually an abuse of it. It emboldened the man who wore it ... Roman body armor. While Paul was a prisoner, he saw it every day—day in and day out, as he was even shackled to a Roman guard for stretches of time. Paul urged first-century Christians to be strong in the Lord, and he used their struggle and the familiar armor to symbolize the nature of the battle. It was far more than met the eye.
Take a look:
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.
Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities,
against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God,
so that when the day of evil comes,
you may be able to stand your ground,
and after you have done everything, to stand.
Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist,
with the breastplate of righteousness in place,
and with your feet fitted with the readiness
that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this,
take up the shield of faith,
with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
Take the helmet of salvation and
the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”
As Paul looked at the soldiers, he took apart the various elements of their armor, and then symbolically painted a similar armor that the believer must don, if he would stand strong against the powers of darkness in this world:
1) The Belt of Truth
2) The Breastplate of Righteousness
3) The Gospel of Peace
4) The Shield of Faith
5) The Helmet of Salvation
6) The Sword of the Spirit
Why, pray tell, did Paul start with the Belt of Truth? To stand against the schemes of evil, why wouldn’t he start with something ... well, frankly more impressive or substantial, like the Sword or even the Shield? Paul had ample time to study the elements of the Roman armor, and how each protected the soldier, so he knew the belt was key. The belt was the foundational piece of armor because it protected the loins, and held the scabbard, which held the sword; no belt, no sword. Besides, the belt also had strips of leather hanging down from the front that helped to protect the soldier’s groin area when in battle.
Why did Paul attach “Truth” to the Belt with regard to helping Christians stand up to evil? Because Truth is critical if attacked by the evil one. Jesus said, “there is no truth in him . . . for he is a liar, and the father of lies.”1. Our ability to stand our ground, our very bearings—indeed, our belt that holds everything else togethermust be hung upon truth, or nothing else will hold together.
Here’s the current dilemma: “In our secular culture, religion and morality have been relegated to the category of subjective preference rather than objective truth. Truth is considered less important than how something makes us feel. We can always find a study or Website to back up what we want to be true, whether or not it really is ... What matters is how we feel, since people, not reality, are the final arbiters of truth.”2 Truth is in trouble, wouldn’t you say?
We have nothing to stand upon if we as Christians cannot stand on the truth of what we believe, and in whom we believe. Jesus, said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes unto the Father, but by me.”3 Nuff said.
And so . . . we must begin to understand what body and soul armor looks like--that is, the full armor of God, about which Paul instructed us, and begin to dress ourselves properly day in-day out, ready, based on truth.
1 – John 8.44
2 – Sean McDowell, “Why Truth Still Matters,” Church Leader Magazine
3 – John 14.6